Supporting the Health of Your Lymphatic System Naturally

The Lymphatic System is a system that is part of the circulatory system and the immune system. It is an organ system with a vital role in regulating tissue pressure, immune surveillance, and the absorption of fats in the diet from the intestines. [1, 2] 

The lymphatic system helps support the heart and immune systems by maintaining blood pressure, promoting oxygen delivery to the tissues, picking up waste, and filtering it before sending it back into the blood in the place of lowest pressure before entering the heart. The lymphatic system also functions as a base for immune cells to mature and to stay to attack pathogens, microbes, and other immune elicitors. 

On a regular basis, some of the blood plasma is forced out of the small blood vessels, the capillaries, into the interstitial fluid to exchange nutrients and oxygen or co2 between the blood and the tissues. Most of this blood plasma gets collected back by the capillaries through pressure differences, but about three liters out of the 20 liters exchanged aren’t soaked up properly by the blood vessels. This is where the healthy lymphatic system comes into play. The lymphatic vessels collect the remaining three liters that weren’t soaked up by the blood vessels. This is crucial since 3 liters form more than half of the blood volume in the average human adult body.

This liquid collected by the lymphatic vessels is then called lymph (from the Latin word lympha, which refers to the deity of freshwater with that name). The Lymph is very similar to blood plasma containing proteins, waste products, cellular debris, and bacteria. It is cleaned and monitored as it filters through some 500 lymph nodes found around the body that monitors and cleanses the lymph. The lymph then goes through lymph organs (thymus, spleen, tonsils, and adenoids), and lymph tissues with defense or immune cells that detect and fight off infection, either through a direct attack on these pathogens with macrophages or by activating the whole immune system. After surveillance, the lymph is eventually returned to the blood circulation through the thoracic or lymphatic ducts that join the major veins and come back to the heart.

Lymphatic vessels are found in organs and tissues with blood supply except for the retina, bones, and brain.

The daily stresses of modern life make it hard for the lymphatic system to do its job well. For health, energy, removal of toxins from the body, prevention of diseases and infections in the future, it is crucial to support your lymphatic system to help it do its job well.

Here are some suggestions on how you can support lymphatic system function:

Drink Enough Water

Drinking water is crucial for lymphatic function. Dehydration leads to less effective lymph node function and causes lymphatic congestion, further worsening subsisting lymph problems. Drinking sufficient water throughout the day encourages healthy lymphatic function and reduces water retention. To calculate how much water you need, please view my video on this here:  

The type of water is also crucial. One study [3] examined the effects of tap water, distilled water, and radon waters on the area of lymphatic vessels and the number and activity of specific white blood cells in the lymphatic system, and on lymphoid nodule number in lymph nodes, in animals. The study found more lymph was collected in rats consuming distilled water. 

Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that comes from natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in the ground. You may find it in drinking water if your water comes from an underground well and increases the risk for cancer. Animals drinking radon water showed an increased proportion of blood capillaries in the small intestine wall and less plasticity in them, which may lead to lymphatic system blockages. 

Aim to drink clean water. 

In general, radon is not found in surface water that comes from rivers, and lakes, because the radon is dispersed into the air before it ever reaches the tap.

Eat a low saturated and trans fat diet

In the intestines, lymphatic vessels absorb and transport fats and other large molecules and proteins. When a high-fat diet is consumed, it will cause functional damage to the lymphatic vessels. And when lymphatic vessels are weak or ruptured, the lymph fluids rich in fat may leak out and increase fat storage, leading to obesity. Also, accumulation of fat tissue is regularly observed in lymphedema patients caused by swelling of the body part due to accumulation of lymph [4-8],

I recommend consuming a high fiber diet low in animal products which is naturally a diet that is lower in fats and preventative of obesity in general and healthful for lymphatic system health overall.

Lose weight

Another study [9] showed that being overweight is associated with lymphatic dysfunction, which could be significantly reversed by diet?controlled weight loss. The study reinforces the causative and critical role of obesity in lymphatic dysfunction and sheds light on the likelihood of reversing it through weight loss. For the best way to lose weight in a healthy and lasting way, visit the guerrilla diet 12-week weight loss program at 50% off here.

Avoid high fructose corn syrup.

A study showed that a high-fructose diet exhibits decreased lymphatic flow and a more significant amount of fat tissue around lymphatic vessels following a high fructose diet. This diet led to a smaller diameter of lymphatic vessels and decreased pumping activity. [10]

Eat Fermented Foods

Lactic acid bacteria are some of the health-supporting bacteria we want in our gut for immunity and lymphatic health. They also provide live enzymes which help digestion, detoxification, and cell repair. In a recent study on the health-promoting components of fermented foods, researchers found that fermented foods have anti-hypertensive, antioxidant, bioactive, and anti-diabetic components that help reduce the growth of human lymphomas. Excellent Lacto-fermented food options include fermented kimchi and sauerkraut. [11]

Get Enough Vitamin D

Lymphocytes have a particular affinity for vitamin D, meaning they’re more likely to carry out their function if you regularly supplement with enough of this nutrient. It also helps promote healthy skin, immunity, and cardiovascular health too. See how much vitamin D you need according to your living location and skin color in my article: xxx

Take Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid Supplements

Researchers found that vitamin C or ascorbic acid positively influences lymphocyte development and function in a study on how vitamin C affects lymphocytes. [12] I recommend taking 500 mg of liposomal vitamin C a few times a week to boost immune system function, and to support collagen production (which is necessary for tissue strength). 

Engage In Exercise that Supports Lymph Flow 

The lymph nodes also respond well to endurance exercise. Swimmers and people doing endurance exercise such as walking, running, or cycling often have excellent immune function because of constantly pumping fluids through their bodies which helps keep the lymph flowing regularly. Pilates, Yoga & Tai Chi can also support lymph node health while also reducing stress levels.

If you currently do not exercise regularly, I recommend starting with a walking routine that you can incorporate into your schedule daily. Even a 30-minute regular daily walk will work wonders on your lymphatic system and your health overall.

Avoid Wearing Tight Clothes

When you wear very tight clothes, you reduce circulation in the lymphatic system. Tight clothing may lead to blockages in the lymphatic system, leading to lowered blood pressure, accumulation of toxins, infections, and swelling that may block arteries delivering sufficient blood to tissues.

Try Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Massage Therapy

Manual Lymphatic Drainage stimulates lymph nodes so that stagnant lymphatic fluid can be redirected or stimulated to flow, helping move waste removal from tissues and speeding up lymph flow by manipulating tissue fluid levels. If done correctly, Manual Lymphatic Drainage will increase detoxification and elimination of wastes, support lymphocytes, and keep them active. According to a study, Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a safe and effective procedure that improves muscle strength and helps prevent lymphedema formation. [13]

Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods Or Take Supplements that Support Lymphocyte Function

Eating nutrient-dense foods promotes a healthy lymphatic system. Some of the best foods for the lymphatic system include:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Omega-3 rich foods such as Walnuts, Flax, and Chia seeds
  • Garlic
  • Berries

If you feel the need for Lymphatic cleansing supplements, these are designed to provide the nutrients necessary for lymphocyte activity. These often contain herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, Goldenseal, Echinacea, and Astragalus, which helpreduce inflammation, reduce congestion of the lymph nodes and vessels, remove excess fluid from tissues, and may act as diuretics. Here is one I recommend taking when needed: https://amzn.to/3v5pLmO There is no need, and I do not advise on taking such supplements regularly.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References 

  1. Dixon JB (2010) Lymphatic lipid transport: sewer or subway? Trends Endocrinol Metab 21: 480–487.
  2. Cueni L, Detmar M (2008) The lymphatic system in health and disease. Lymphat Res Biol 6: 109–122.
  3. Borodin IuI, Golubeva IA, Mashak AN. [Lymphatic system and water homeostasis]. Morfologiia. 2005;128(4):60-4. Russian. PMID: 16400924.
  4. Nougues J, Reyne Y, Barenton B, Chery T, Garandel V, Soriano J 1993. Differentiation of adipocyte precursors in a serum-free medium is influenced by glucocorticoids and endogenously produced insulin-like growth factor-I. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 17: 159–167
  5. Rosen ED 2002. The molecular control of adipogenesis, with special reference to lymphatic pathology. Ann N Y Acad Sci 979: 188–196
  6. Harvey NL, Srinivasan RS, Dillard ME, Johnson NC, Witte MH, Boyd K, Sleeman MW, Oliver G 2005. Lymphatic vascular defects promoted by Prox1 haploinsufficiency cause adult-onset obesity. Nat Genet 37: 1072–1081 
  7. Blum KS, Karaman S, Proulx ST, et al. Chronic high-fat diet impairs collecting lymphatic vessel function in mice. PLoS One. 2014;9(4):e94713. Published 2014 Apr 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094713
  8. Brorson H, Ohlin K, Olsson G, Karlsson MK (2009) Breast cancer-related chronic arm lymphedema is associated with excess adipose and muscle tissue. Lymphat Res Biol 7: 3–10.
  9. Nitti MD, Hespe GE, Kataru RP, García Nores GD, Savetsky IL, Torrisi JS, Gardenier JC, Dannenberg AJ & Mehrara BJ (2016). Obesity?induced lymphatic dysfunction is reversible with weight loss. J Physiol 594, 7073–7087. 
  10. Chakraborty S, Zawieja S, Wang W, Zawieja DC, Muthuchamy M. Lymphatic system: a vital link between metabolic syndrome and inflammation. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010;1207 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):E94-E102. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05752.
  11. Melini F, Melini V, Luziatelli F, Ficca AG, Ruzzi M. Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1189. Published 2019 May 27. doi:10.3390/nu11051189
  12. van Gorkom GNY, Klein Wolterink RGJ, Van Elssen CHMJ, Wieten L, Germeraad WTV, Bos GMJ. Influence of Vitamin C on Lymphocytes: An Overview. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018;7(3):41. Published 2018 Mar 10. doi:10.3390/antiox7030041
  13. Oliveira MMF, Gurgel MSC, Amorim BJ, et al. Long term effects of manual lymphatic drainage and active exercises on physical morbidities, lymphoscintigraphy parameters and lymphedema formation in patients operated due to breast cancer: A clinical trial. PLoS One. 2018;13(1):e0189176. Published 2018 Jan 5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0189176

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